In 1987, Paul Bocuse created the Bocuse d’Or with the objective of revealing the culinary talents of tomorrow around the world. It is now nearly a year since Monsieur Paul passed away. The contest lives on and will hold its 17th edition (29-30 January 2019) promoting the same spirit of culinary excellence and pushing the limits.
Over the course of its existence, the Bocuse d’Or has become a great observatory of the diversity of culinary heritage around the world and also of the transformations that are taking place in the gastronomic sphere. This year, participants from 67 countries over the 5 continents (Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe) contribute to promote the spirit of cultural openness during the 18-month long selection process that precedes the Finale. The continental qualifying events enable any nation that wants to join the Bocuse d’Or adventure to come and demonstrate their culinary traditions.
The coming edition of the Bocuse d’Or will assuredly be marked by the absence of Paul Bocuse. In the early 1980’s the Chef of the Century and pioneering visionary had a generous ambition to create the most unique event dedicated to revealing the talents of tomorrow, regardless of their gastronomic culture. He wanted to ‘draw chefs out their kitchens’ says his son Jérôme who has taken over the presidency of the contest.
A philosophy that has come a long way and gained considerable momentum. Over the course of 16 editions, the contest has brought together a network of more than 4,000 chefs in more than 60 countries.
“Paul Bocuse leaves us with an immense legacy, the Bocuse d’Or. For the 2019 Finale of the event we wanted to pay tribute by continuing this beautiful adventure of course, but also by promoting the messages he has passed on to us throughout his career. There is one piece of advice I find most relevant: ‘a dish is better when the products used in its creation can be identified”, says Chef Régis Marcon, Bocuse d’Or 1995 and now President of the International Organising Committee.
AFRICA JOINS THE ADVENTURE
Because the Bocuse d’Or is always in tune with the gastronomy changes that take place all over our planet, it continually expands its network around the world drawing new nations that are keen to take up the challenge. In 2019, an additional continental qualifying event was introduced. Africa made a notable debut with the presence of six teams: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.
In the wake of the continental round that took place in June this year in Marrakech, chefs from two countries were selected to take part in the world Finale in Lyon: Aissam Ait Ouakrim from Morocco, a nation that has already taken part in a previous edition thanks to a wildcard/invitation, and Marwane Younssi, from Tunisia, a country that will participating in the Bocuse d’Or for the first time.
This new presence will no doubt assert the role of the African continent and the influence of North Africa’s ancestral culinary cultures on the world gastronomy stage.
BACK TO THE FUNDAMENTALS
This year, the International Organising Committee is keen to place some of the culinary fundamentals at the heart of the contest to ensure that the performance is after the image of the atmosphere that reins in the kitchens: a subtle mix of smells, fragrances and sounds of cooking utensils but also the right combination of perfect know-how and an approach that relies on instinct. ‘We started out with the product to determine the theme for this edition: meat on the bone, “rack of suckling veal 5 prime chops” supplied by sponsor “Viande de veau française” with imposed roasted cooking method so as to judge the candidates’ talent in this respect, which is essential at this level of excellence. We also wish to further encourage technical skills, innovation, aesthetics and unique tastes and flavours through a free theme (vegetable, offal…) designed to reflect the candidate’s personality. The challenge is thrilling, transform a classic piece into a modern masterpiece gourmet creation that is in tune with its time’, explains Régis Marcon, President of the International Organising Committee.
‘It is important for a Chef to know how to control a cooking method, to make the most of the product, and perform the perfect carving. That’s the reason we decided to place the emphasis back on instinct and individual mastery’, adds Jérôme Bocuse.